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Texas AG Claims Noncitizens Voted in 2018, Liam Stack, NYT

Texas AG Ken Paxton: “Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice.” Texas has called into question 95,000 registered voters who in the past have identified themselves as noncitizen and legal residents of the United States.

Other authorities are skeptical of the AG’s claim 58,000 noncitizens of the 8.2 million registered voters listed voted in 2018. A spokesman for the AG followed up stating the identification of the 95,000 is not proof of voting. Texas is asking each of the identified for additional proof of citizenship. Texas has one of the strictest voting laws in the nation. Nonvoting citizens is a felony, oops a mistake, noncitizens voting in Texas is a felony and noncitizens registering is a misdemeanor.

Civil Rights Attorney Kristen Clarke: “Texas has a rich history of undertaking action to make it harder for people to vote,” she said. “Whenever you’re invoking the threat of criminal prosecution, the chilling effect becomes almost unavoidable.”

From Celebrated to Vilified Sheryl Gay Stolberg, NYT

As symbols of diversity when they were sworn in last month, Congressional Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota joined the other 435 members of the House of Representatives.

One month later and after bringing their views on Israel to the forefront, they have found themselves to be the most vilified of the Democrats by their own party and that of Republicans. The president of the J Street a liberal Jewish advocacy Ben Ami said the two are “opening up a discussion that is absolutely needed on American policy.” They are helping to pull the Democratic Party more toward the view espoused by J Street and “younger liberal Jews” who believe that “you can be sympathetic to the state of Israel and also sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Both women are under fire for their views and comments.

the smirking face of Trumpism in America Rafia Zakaria, The Bafler

This comes a bit late. I was off visiting family in Chicago and helping my wife keep two young, challenging grand daughters busy while temperatures plummeted in the minus twenties at night and the winds off the lake did not make the minus teens any better during daylight. I can not recall in my 60 plus years temperatures of this kind even living further north. And neither can I recall the outward arrogance of teens on display at the Lincoln Memorial.

As Rafia writes; “Just as many seemed to be coalescing against the shamefulness of young men deriding a Native American veteran, another story, the cherished ‘other’ side with which the pain of non-white Americans is trivialized, was gathered up. Solemn faced television anchors and their off-air Twitter colleagues now dished up ‘context.’ Whether or not it was intended for this purpose, its effect was to muddle up the story that the original video told, a story whose racist truth cast in the arrogance of a young man and the fortitude of an old one had galvanized an America of ever-dwindling empathy to actually care.”

What other side of this can there be? A teenage white-boy standing in front of a native American veteran with a smirk on his face wearing a red “MAGA” cap to a protest designed to protect the unborn. The Catholic church caves to the white parents of the white students. There was a moment when this could have gone the other way. The young teen could have left his red cap at home, could have stepped out of the way, could have watched with respect of another culture practicing a religion unknown to most of us, etc.

There was a defining moment and the young man in question showed one example of it, an image of American intolerance of minorities in a mostly white American. There is no other side to this story. It is strictly what can be observed.

I have been asked to talk about my global travels at a Jesuit University from where I earned my Masters. There is a great example here of how not to be an Ugly American. There is another side also and it is “how to behave as a minority” in another country.

Millions of College Students Go Hungry While Pursuing a Degree, Marcella Bombardieri, The Atlantic

From a 2017 survey, 42 percent of community-college students nationally experienced food insecurity within a previous month. This could mean missing meals altogether or not being able to afford balanced meals. Twelve percent of students were considered homeless at some point in the previous year.

Among Amarillo College students who took the same survey, 54 percent had experienced food insecurity within the past month, and 11 percent had been homeless in the past year. The Amarillo student body is not significantly needier than those of other institutions, but the college leadership’s interest in highlighting the extent of the need is much more unusual.

Amongst college students food insecurity is a real issue. A new report from the Government Accountability Office highlights the breadth of those students affected. Three common risk factors for food insecurity were identified among low-income students; being a first generation college student; receiving SNAP (receiving SNAP can be considered a risk factor in that it may reduce and not entirely eliminate food insecurity); and being a single parent. Of the approximately 7.3 million low-income students, 31 percent were first-generation college students, 31 percent reported receiving SNAP, and 25 percent were single parents.

‘Show of force’, Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner

In a show of force, the Trump administration has flooded a Texas border town sitting just over the river from the Mexican city of Piedras Negras. 1,800 caravan migrants arrived earlier in the week as well as hundreds of law enforcement personnel across the river. Both sides of the river have been watching this caravan move. And of course every news media glorifying Trump’s actions is out carrying the “you will not pass this way” message. “To me, it is showing force. It would give a message to the immigrants wanting to come illegally through Texas that it is always prepared and has a lot of manpower at the border — that they should go to another state,” County Sheriff Tom Schmerber.

“100 U.S. law enforcement vehicles lined a one-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas on a Saturday afternoon. Sixty sat together in one section of the river on a local golf course.”

I wonder what the fairways look like now? I am sure the golf course and the resident golfers were thrilled. And they will blame the supposedly wretched illegals for trying to escape a condition the US helped to create.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s SOTU Sour Expression Provokes Republican Response

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)

Andy Borowitz: “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s facial expression during the State of the Union address came under continued attack from Republicans on Thursday, with the former House Speaker John Boehner joining the chorus of disapproval.

‘When I saw her with that pained expression on her face, I couldn’t believe my eyes,’ Boehner said. ‘It was like nothing I had ever seen before in my life.’

The former Speaker said that Ocasio-Cortez broke his ‘No. 1 rule’ of reacting to a State of the Union speech: ‘No matter what the President is saying, be sure to look cheerful and upbeat at all times.’

‘I didn’t always agree with what President Obama had to say over the years, but I always kept a smile on my face,’ he said. ‘I think if the congresswoman went back and looked at video of me and my fellow-Republicans during the Obama speeches, she could learn a lot about maintaining a non-stop happy facial expression.’” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

Actually Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s facial expressions reveals quite lucidly what many of us feel in listening to the garbage spewed forth by Trump and supported by Republicans with nary a word out of fear. AOC portrays what we feel . . . disgust.

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The End Of The End Of The Cold War

The End Of The End Of The Cold War

It is a sign of how wacko things have gotten that the truly most important event of the past week has simply been buried in the news by all the huffing and puffing over Trump’s shutdown ending and these revelations about VA Governor Northam. This would be decision by the US on Feb. 1 to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) treaty with Russia, followed by Russia’s doing so as well shortly thereafter. This is both historic and very serious, far more so than Trump’s wall or Northam’s photographs.

The treaty was signed in 1987 between then US President Reagan and then Soviet President Gorbachev, culminating several years of negotiations. It led to the destruction of around 3600 short and intermediate range nuclear missiles, including most importantly all of those in Europe that threatened the potential outbreak of a war on that continent between NATO and the USSR. It was one of the most important moments on the way to bringing about the end of the Cold War, and indeed it is unfortunately accurate to describe the ending of this treaty as the end of that end.

I have seen a number of people speculating that this action somehow shows Trump “standing up” to V.V. Putin, being a tough guy and all that. But the nearly immediate acceptance with virtually no complaint by Putin of this move suggests otherwise. US and also western European officials have argued that Russia has been in effective violation of the INF since 2014 when it developed a new cruise missile, 97M925, that can be easily modified to make it fly in the forbidden distance ranges. Russian leaders have argued that they were not in violation given that this missile also had as its main range adjusted and therefore are not in violation and none violating the limits had been deployed. Putting such missiles with the violating ranges in deployment would directly threaten western Europe. As it is, Putin is in a position now to rapidly deploy them in a way to threaten western Europe while the US has nothing to put in place to reply to this. So, Putin gets to gain a major military edge and threaten the western Europeans while getting to blame Trump for having ended the treaty by withdrawing and allowing him to do this. The Europeans in question had opposed Trump ending the treaty, with indeed this probably being one of those things Merkel was trying to maintain influence with Trump over by not complaining too loudly about the US pressuring German companies to stop dealing with Iran.

Another factor in this matter emphasized by US leaders is that China was never a part of the agreement, and I gather has been developing such intermediate range missiles. But those were unlikely to be deployed in Europe, where the removal of such missiles 32 years ago was a triumphant movement towards the reduction of mutual tensions and towards peace.

All the way around, there is nothing good at all about this development, and it most definitely doesn’t show Trump doing something that is against the interests or desires of V.V. Putin. The outcome may well be a new arms race, which will please the military-industrial complexes in both the US and Russia, and maybe China as well. No, this is not a good development at all

Barkley Rosser

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Reduction in Representation as the remedy for voter suppression

Reduction in Representation as the remedy for voter suppression

This is the second take prompted by my reading of David W. Blight‘s biography of Frederick Douglass.

In the “nothing is every really new” department, voter suppression was very much on the mind of Douglass and other radical Republicans during the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. Douglass was fond of saying that blacks would only gain equality once they exercised power through three “boxes: the cartridge box, the jury box, and the ballot box.” In other words, first equality would have to be fought for in the war. Then there would need to be legal equality. And finally, the only way to protect that legal equality would be via the right to vote.

Douglass and others were very clear-minded that the “copperhead” Democrats would continue to suppress freed blacks by denying them access to voting rights, all the while continuing to gain power via counting freed blacks towards representation in the Congress. Sound familiar at all?

While the ultimate step was the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1969-70, the second Section of the Fourteenth Amendment addresses voter suppression directly, and mandates a specific remedy that is well worth renewed consideration today.

Here are the relevant texts of the first and second Sections of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Section One of the Amendment mandates that

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Section Two states:

“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election … is denied to any … citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”

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Frederick Douglass, Andrew Johnson, and the Copperhead GOP

Frederick Douglass, Andrew Johnson, and the Copperhead GOP

I am currently reading David W. Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass, the 19th century orator and champion of black equality. Today I wanted to briefly write on several timely topics inspired by that tome.

Douglass was biracial, or in the parlance of the day, a mulatto. His mother was a young slave named Harriet Bailey. His father was probably Aaron Anthony, the “overseer of overseers” of slaves at the nearby Wye Plantation on the eastern shore of Maryland. He was probably conceived in rape.

His earliest memories included Anthony giving his mother’s sister a vicious whipping for the crime of having a romantic relationship with a young male slave; and Anthony also gently leading him by the hand, patting him on the head, tousling his hair, and calling him “my little Indian boy.”

 

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I Support Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam

I Support Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam

Current media is denouncing VA Gov Ralph Northam with many demanding he resign now over an unfortunate incident in his youth.

I note that that the final crucial person who gave us Obamacare was the late Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. He was in his youth a member of the Klu Klux Klan, indeed held some office in it. In the end when the ultimate votes in the Senate came, which had Republicans denouncing him over his 1940s support of the KKK, and some of them openly hoping he would die as he was in bad health and did die thereafter, Robert Byrd did show up for the ultimately crucial vote, wheeled in in a wheelchair, to cast the ultimately final crucial vote that gave us ACA/Obamacare, which despite its many flaws has improved the health of many people in America.

Regarding Ralph Northam, an extremely excellent and super competent governor of Virginia, a few days ago, affirmed the right of women to make the ultimate decisions regarding their bodies with the support of just one doctor (three are now needed), he has just been denounced on alt-right and even Hannity outlets for his defense of a woman’s right to choose. The attacks on him from the organized right on this matter have been horrendous. They have accused him of supporting “infanticide.” This charge is disgusting and false. But the GOP is trying to make his supremely responsible and medically wise view a crime. They are just hypocrites.

I will not call those now demanding Northam’s resignation over his unfortunate photo from 35 years ago hypocrites. Indeed, I sympathize, especially with African Americans, who have had to face all kinds of racism here in Virginia as in the awful violence in Charlottesville in 2017 as well as the ongoing refusal at the state level to allow local governments to remove Confederate statues and monuments. It may well be that Northam will feel in the end that he must resign for his youthful mistake. But I think it will be unfortunate as he really has been a good governor and is personally a nice guy (I have met him). The photo certainly does not represent his current views at all.

Addendum, 3:25 PM, 2/2/19

I fear that I am increasingly leaning to Northam needing to resign, despite my generally high regard for him. He has just made a public statement that has really confused things, and I fear he may simply have fatally damaged his governorship with how he has messed this story up. He is now claiming that he is not in the photo, but says he did blacken his face once in 1984 to pretend to be Michael Jackson for a dance or skit, where he even won a prize (ugh). He also says he is not the person now he was then and is begging for forgiveness. I guess he deserves the latter, but he made a real botch of this, and I fear it will not get better. Ironically the lt. gov who would replace him if he were to resign, Justin Fairfax, is African American. Anyway, I am sorry about this whole situation, but now fear Northam simply cannot clean up the mess he has made of it.

Barkley Rosser

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Scales of Justice Played Out in Madison County, Indiana

There is quite a bit of Medicare fraud occurring in the nation and there has been a coordinated attack on it. The fraud can be measured in the $billions. Commercial healthcare Insurance fraud is also a problem and insurance companies spend quite a bit of money fighting it which adds to their administrative fees of 15 and 20%.

99.9% of the time the theft goes into the pocket of the thieves. People get rich off of this stuff.

In Madison County Indiana, a school superintendent resigned her position. The reason? She took a student to a healthcare clinic seeking treatment for him because he had symptoms of Strep throat. Not a big deal and an act of kindness and charity.

The problem arises with her claiming him as her son and having her insurance pay the $233 bill. Except, this was not her son, she committed fraud, and her kindness and charity does not count.

The Madison County prosecutor Rodney J. Cummings who has tried “100 major felony and homicide jury trials” has charged the school superintendent with three felonies and one misdemeanor. Yes, it is an act of theft. I admit it and I am sure others will dispute my cavalier attitude here on crime and justice.

$233 to help a child and committing fraud to get him care is now worthy of three felony charges plus a misdemeanor? What was I thinking when the state news in Indiana is talking about $billions in Medicare, healthcare, and opinion fraud? Perhaps, not much is happening in Madison County just northeast of Indianapolis.

But then there is the plea deal going on here. One year of checking in with the county to make sure you are still behaving and admit to the crime. As measured against the $thousand which will be spent on court dates and administering the sentence for one year. Mr. Prosecutor, don’t you have something better to do?

Scrap the three felonies and misdemeanor. There is no evil act going on here and move on to other things. She can pay the insurance company back, court costs, get a stern warning, you will still look like you are cracking down on fraud, and also show you have a heart

Now here is a potential real felony: “Two days after accidentally firing his handgun into the floor of an Anderson restaurant, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings acknowledges he could have done more to prevent the mishap.”

Awww, sorry folks, it was a new gun. Go back to eating your steaks (Texas Roadhouse).

“It was a new gun. I’ve only had it for a couple weeks, who noted he has carried a firearm for 36 years as a prosecutor and a police officer.”

Cummings told the newspaper he plans to have the gun examined by an armorer to ensure there are no mechanical problems. He also plans to buy a holster.

“I will not in the future have a round in the chamber, It’s just not worth the risk.”

Another JA wannabe cowboy.

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Foxconn is flailing in Wisconsin (Insert your joke here.)

Foxconn is flailing in Wisconsin (Insert your joke here.)

 In what may end up as the biggest economic development failure in U.S. history, Foxconn announced Wednesday that its $10 billion Wisconsin factory will not be a factory. Instead, the company says, it will still create 13,000 jobs, but these will be research jobs rather than manufacturing ones. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Accompanied by an almost $4.8 billion subsidy package as estimated by Good Jobs First (follow the link to the spreadsheet), the project was heavily criticized even before it was announced in 2017 (my take here and here). The massive subsidy helped normalize the idea of multi-billion investment incentives and gave Amazon a handy benchmark for its own effort to break the bank.

As I analyzed a year and a half ago, it didn’t make sense to manufacture electronics in the United States when everything was cheaper in China, unless you were worried about access to the U.S. market. The illegitimate Trump regime had already created an unpredictable and protectionist trade climate, and this was long before the trade war with China really took off. If Foxconn felt it had to locate in the United States, the country was in a strong bargaining position, but by playing the states off against each other, it was still possible for a foreign company to score huge subsidies.

What happens next? As noted, Foxconn still says it will build a huge facility and hire 13,000 workers. But in 2018, it failed to meet its job creation target and forfeited what would have been a $9.5 million subsidy. I predict we will see more such failures from Foxconn until it finally pulls the plug. Indeed, on January 31, Good Jobs First called for the immediate cancellation of the deal, with the company financially responsible for expenses made by the state and by Racine County in connection with the project. This would be a fair resolution of the situation, appropriately leaving egg on the faces of the deal’s promoters, the recently defeated Governor Scott Walker and the head of the illegitimate Trump regime.

As you see, I have managed to steer clear of the obvious puns. Instead, I invite you to insert your joke here.

Cross-posted at Middle Class Political Economist

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Reagan’s Tax Cuts and the Volcker Recession

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

Reagan’s Tax Cuts and the Volcker Recession

 Max Boot is a candidate member of the Rubin Gerson can’t be a conservative anymore, because I always agree with them club of Washington Post columnists. But he is a bit confused about US macroeconmic history and macroeconomics. He wrote”The deficit spending of the Reagan years was at least justified because it boosted the economy out of a deep recession “

As a matter of timing, this can’t be right. The Kemp Roth tax cut was enacted in 1981. Real GDP peaked in 1981q3 — the tax cut corresponds to the beginning of the recession not the end.

The part that Boot misses (because it has been unimportant for the past 10 years) is monetary policy. It is possible to cause a severe recession in spite of fiscal stimulus by driving the Federal Funds rate up over 19 %. The combination of loose fiscal and very tight monetary policy caused huge real interest rates and a collapse of investment. It also caused an over-valued dollar, a huge surge in imports and deindustrialization.

One can discuss the effects of fiscal policy without considering the response of monetary authorities only when monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. If GDP is determined by the Fed’s ideas about what level is consistent with low inflation, then fiscal policy which is, in itself, stimulatory just changes the composition and not the level of demand.

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“If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did” J-chait

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

“If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did” J-chait

Jon Chait remains as enthusiastic about Barack Obama as I am, so it isn’t surprising that he wrote a blog post entitled “If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did”. But the title does raise a question. Is Chait dumping on the very serious centrists (cough David Brooks couch) who argued that Obama should reach out to Republicans by proposing reasonable centrist policies which he had proposed (as Chait often does) or is Chait hippy punching (as Chait does when he isn’t Republipunching).The first two words in the post answer the question “Matt Stoller” OK here comes some hippy punching (I haven’t read past “Stoller”). In contrast, something is very predictable. I almost always agree with Chait (unless he is writing about charter schools and neglects to mention that he is married to a manager of a charter school company).

Charlie Pierce has been there and done that. No need to read his post to get the point — the subtitle is thermonuclear

“I’m Going to Guess This Isn’t a Winning Democratic Platform for 2020

Also, Rand Paul is not a major figure in American politics.”

Just imagine a Pierce Chait debate — might be the critical mass of snark which causes the false vacuum to decay ending the universe (which on balance wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing)).

Now hippy punching can be fun, but really guys, pick on someone in your league — it isn’t nice to dunk on a junior high school guard.

update: I clicked through to an older and excellent Chait article complaining that liberals did’t appreciate Obama in 2010 (now liberals do — the current complaints come from democratic socialists who denounce mere liberals).

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